Despite an injury-prone career, Ishant Sharma managed to become only the third Indian pace bowler after Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan to get to 300 wickets on Monday. Unless his 'sore body' relents, the tall fast bowler is likely to become only the second pace bowler behind Kapil Dev to play 100 Test matches in the second series. The ongoing first Test is the 98th of his career.
On Monday, when he reached the milestone by dismissing Daniel Lawrence leg-before wicket with a delivery that came in, teammate R Ashwin paid tribute to his longevity and called him one of the most hard-working cricketers he has played with.
"Ishant has been one of the most hard-working cricketers that I have seen in that Indian team dressing room. He worked extremely hard for more than just one reason. Being that tall requires a lot of facets to be managed throughout the career that panned out for almost 14 years," said Ashwin of his teammate.
Height serves as a doubled-edged sword for a fast bowler. It can provide added bounce, acute angles to the bowler that he can trouble the batsman with but can also put stress on the body.
"For a tall bowler, ball hits the deck and it bounces up. That is great. The problem is that a tall person has much longer limbs, normally a longer torso. So, if you apply physics and you talk about levers, bones are longer so the levers are longer which means that the torsional stress or rotational stress at their joints is often much higher. So that stress at the joints needs to be managed very, very well. Otherwise, it can cause injuries to the joints and the discs of the spine," sports physiotherapist Heath Matthews told IANS.
His injury problems began even before he made his debut in Bangladesh in 2007. He played the Test through a shoulder injury.
It has carried on with him since. He has had back injuries, has had to undergo surgery on his ankle and most latest suffered side strain due to which he missed a possible fifth tour of Australia. But he cam back in this Test and on a flat surface produced two beautiful deliveries, aided by reverse swing, in the first innings that saw the back of Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler.
"I think it is a big testament to Ishant's professionalism that he has kept his body in physical condition that he is available to play 100 Test matches. It is a big hats-off to those that have been working with him over the years in his career who have done their bit to ensure that he is doing his warm-ups and cool-downs and his fitness regimes to keep him in good nick," added Matthews, who manages elite athletes.
Among the current crop of non-England, non-Australia pace bowlers across the world, none, including Dale Steyn, who has played 93 Tests, has such a huge experience of bowling against England and Australia. Ishant has played 25 Tests against Australia, his most against any team and 18 against England. He has picked 59 scalps against both teams so far.
"Quite a rollercoaster life so far. A lot of experiences, I've learned a lot about how to bowl in the subcontinent, and what lengths to bowl when we go abroad. Feeling a bit sore," the 32-year-old India bowler said after the end of the fourth day's play.
India will hope Ishant's soreness goes away soon and he is available to play all the three remaining Tests.